All talk of Tibetan independence threatens the unity of the “motherland”. It is regarded as counter-revolutionary, and since 1951 has in many cases been a capital offence (Tears of Blood: A Cry for Tibet, Mary Craig, 1992, p.234). Counter-revolution is defined in Article 90 of the PRC Chinese Criminal Law as acts “committed with the goal of overthrowing the political power of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system”.
In May 1994 China announced sweeping new laws designed to silence political dissent. There are now 18 new grounds for detention, including forming a social organisation without government approval, “fabricating and distorting facts”, spreading rumours or “otherwise disrupting public order”. Punishments will now be handed out for “stirring up conflicts between nationalities, hurting the unity of nationalities and inciting separation of nationalities”. The new laws greatly enhance police powers.
Seemingly minor acts of non-violent protest are met with the “iron fist”. Tibetans who openly express political dissent to Western tourists, or who collect information about conditions in Tibet and try to forward it to the Tibetan Government-in-Exile or Western human rights groups are particularly at risk.”